Good news! Connecticut is quickly becoming a national model in combating one of the biggest scourges on public education: ditching school.
Connecticut By The Numbers reports that chronic absenteeism is down across the entire state and the country is taking notice.
The State Department of Education’s annual report found that Connecticut’s chronic absentee rate (a student missing over 10 percent of the school year) dropped a full percentage point this year, from 10.6 to 9.6 percent. That means that over 10,000 more students are showing up to class on a daily basis.
What’s more impressive is that the state managed to cut this national crisis from its all time high that was set four years ago, when the absentee rate was at a near 12 percent.
Although minority students have expressed a disproportionately high rate of absenteeism when compared to white students, there was a noticeable drop in chronic absenteeism among Latino and black students. For Latinos, the rate dropped 4 percentage points from 19.1 to 14.5 percent. For black students, last year’s rate dropped almost two full percentage points from 16 to 14.5 percent.
So how is Connecticut achieving this? Some credit the state’s new Next Generation Accountability System, which takes an alternate look at how schools are preparing students for a successful future in higher education, employment, and in life. Studying ways to reduce chronic absenteeism was added to the program this year, which may have yielded 2016’s impressive results.
Chronic absenteeism is a huge influence in a student’s success in school. Those who are habitually absent from school tend to read at a lower level and are very likely to drop out of school.
By tacking chronic absenteeism, schools are now becoming aware of the many indicators that may influence a student’s ability to come to school, such as: poverty, homelessness, health problems, moving, and disabilities. With that knowledge, administrators and teachers can start crafting individualized plans to help an at-risk student succeed.
By creating more high school graduates, the local workforce will also see an uptick in qualified and skilled labor, which will inevitably help in the state’s economic recovery.
With Connecticut schools proving that they have successfully started to tackle chronic absenteeism, other states are beginning to take note on how to incorporate that into their own initiatives.